Artist: Alice Quaresma

Além (Beyond)
Curated by Mario Gioia
Fauna Galeria
São Paulo, Brazil

The current exhibit of Alice Quaresma is one of the most interesting ones, not only for its unstable and migrant character in the photographic process, but also for embodying, in a poetic and unique way, some pungent issues to the contemporary artist. In particular, we can highlight those that lean towards relationships, identity issues, uprooting, sense of permanence and displacement, among other powerful traits within her work.

In the Além (Beyond) exhibit, which represents a new debut for Fauna Gallery, now located in Vila Mariana _ a special locus within São Paulo art circuit _ the artist based in New York and who had much of her art education in London shows a series of photographs in which the boundaries and definitions of this language are consciously stretched, but do not fail to establish themselves within the photographic field. They are certainly expanded, since Quaresma seems to aim for what she refers to as “photo-objects”, while taking advantage of painting, drawing, collage and three-dimensional elements.

“The non-object designation is entirely appropriate to my work. […] There are certain types of artworks that belong to the same family. My work is neither architecture, nor sculpture or painting in the old sense “1, declared Hélio Oiticica (1937-1980) to Vera Martins in 1961. Mentioning the name of Oiticica, a reference in the Brazilian Neoconcretism, comes in handy in Quaresma´s visual and conceptual research for being a paradigm in this blur of boundary of means and pillar of art and languages, expanding the resonance of the national constructive project and, to this date, still influential to new generations of artists here (in Brazil).

It is now relevant to tell a little about Alice Quaresma’s journey. Graduated in painting in London, she began to experiment with photography in college, and then went through a phase of self-portraits and other phases of still life in the studio setting, with equipment and strategies focused on an impeccable technique. Later she got back to painting and, from there, managed to deconstruct her own photographic process using elements of other plastic arts and visual researches, guided by a formal detachment.

It is almost under an aegis of crisis _ seen not in the negative sense, but as a propeller for something new to be experienced and discovered under new prisms _ Quaresma’s journey is being built, and now unfolds in a persistent unease about what is photographic _ in a time of overflown circulation of this mean (photograph), something that brings ubiquity but also increasingly rarefied quality of its specificities _ and how it can be covered by subjectivity and a less tenuous presence.

“I am interested in dealing with time; but overlapping it, not linearly. When you see a blurred picture, it is simply the record of time in one click (only one image)”, she says. “Then the paint and many other materials that I have been using on my photographic images come in. I will always use materials, which I have not yet tested. At the moment, I have been using a lot of paint, oil sticks and colored tape.”

Then a more experimental approach comes in, as advocated by Oiticica and his peers, and that helps Quaresma in building a particular path, in which there were times when Demand, Hofer and Becher were decisive, but they stand just as some of the modules that constitute her work. “These interferences deal with the possibility of bringing casual traits. Hand Gestures bring more intuition and less control. The materiality brings moments of surprise by enriching the texture over the flatness of the photo paper.”

And there is this feeling of being a foreigner, from continuously dealing with the idea of not belonging and with the careful, yet not painful, construction of an affectionate memory, which can have great concreteness links, but also, only in images and records, something evanescent, undone. In this sense, they gain importance in Além artworks, such as: Encontro, Mudanças do Tempo e Vestígios (Encounters, Time Changes and Traces); which the titles reveal much of her indicial temporality in collapse. This is something that was already noticeable in her previous project, such as Raízes (Roots, 2013) _ blurred ocean, vigorous vegetation massifs now portrayed in black and white, once glorious public and private buildings and, at the time of the authorial registration, less solid and robust.

Moving against the almost incessant reproduction quality of the photo medium, Alice Quaresma’s unique creations seem to unveil, therefore, a new territory, to “beyond”. And here they echo in the inescapable collage thought of the Italian Luigi Ghirri (1943-1992): “Many […] have seen or considered these photographs as photomontages; just like I would call them, instead of photodémontage. To a large extent, the reality is increasingly transformed into a colossal photograph, and the photomontage has already happen; it is in the real world” 2.

Mario Gioia, June 2015

  1. OITICICA FILHO, Cesar, COHN, Sergio, VIEIRA, Ingrid (org.). Encontros – Hélio Oiticica. Azougue, Rio de Janeiro, 2009, p. 25.
  2. FABIANI, Francesca, GASPARINI, Laura, SERGIO, Giuliano, NOGUEIRA, Thyago (org.). Luigi Ghirri – Pensar por Imagens. Instituto Moreira Salles, São Paulo, 2013, p. 68